April 19th, 2010

The usual suspects

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Last week in several papers they were bemoaning the fact that the motorist pays higher fines than criminals.

This is not new. When I joined the job it took just a few appearances at court to realise that burglars & robbers were getting off much lighter than speeders.

The Daily Fail pointed out a recent case of a woman caught out by a Trading Standards sting who was fined £1,000 for selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old, though what this has to do with motorists fines I’m not sure.

Anyway, apparently the average fine at magistrates court for 2008 was £75. Violence was £210, burglary £147, theft £95, damage £120, drugs £106 fraud £195.

A parking infringement on London earns a £120 ticket. Speeding tickets start at £60 but can earn a significantly higher penalty at court.

The theory goes that most people who commit crime haven’t got much money so there’s no point in fining them a lot as the simply won’t be able to pay, whereas the motorist who gets caught has a job & is an easy victim/cash cow to boost central funds.

It’s been like that for the last 30 years to my knowledge, its not right but neither is it news.

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9 comments

  1. Mosh says:

    I know this isn’t what *you* are saying, but motorists don’t always have jobs. I know two people off the top of my head who are on motability, so have cars and no job. One is retired, the other living off incapacity benefits.

    My mother has a car and has been retired for years. I’ve got a car and I’m currently a student on an income of £400 a month – which I have to pay back. Yet I get the same fine for overstaying in a parking bay as a guy on an investment banker’s salary.

    There’s a lesson in this – get caught speeding and if you need the cash, just mug a granny for it. Assuming you *do* get caught, you’ll actually be in profit.

    April 20th, 2010 at 00:54

  2. Shijuro says:

    In some enlightened countries I think sweden, they have variable fines. Some millionare was in the news for speeding and got an £80,000 fine!

    April 20th, 2010 at 08:08

  3. Tony F says:

    I am not so sure about the variable fine thing, I know it looks good in the meeja, but it does make one wonder about variable justice. IE an MP can get away with embezzlement, but a till worker would be sacked…

    April 20th, 2010 at 20:47

  4. Civ_In_The_City says:

    £1000 for illegally trading a goldfish?

    Bagging a guppy with intent to supply to a minor?

    Can Tescos still sell Birds Eye fish fingers to under 16`s?

    Those who can afford to pay have to pay larger fines? What happened to justice being blind.

    Juries are not allowed to take previous offences into consideration but judges can take previous earnings into consideration?

    And the goldfish dealer was nabbed in the act by a Trading Standards sting operation? How much did this sting operation cost us taxpayers then?

    If she was serving them up outside the school gates deep-fried in a bun I`d expect something to be done.

    “People who commit crime haven`t got much money…so they won`t be able to pay”. Does this work on a sliding scale?

    If I knife someone to death will I be let off a 2p fine?

    “We should give him 10 years in prison but I don`t reckon he could handle more than 6 months so I`ll give him a fortnight. Suspended of course.”

    This country is a constant source of embarrassment, we have lost the plot, have no sense of reasonableness, common-sense, fairness or balance. And no sense of humour.

    Remind me again, what were the characteristics that made Britain ‘Great’?

    April 21st, 2010 at 22:00

  5. B says:

    I understand the Germans actually arrest people who don’t pay their fines to the court. Apparently, people who don’t have the money for fines tend to magically find it when that happens.

    April 22nd, 2010 at 09:20

  6. shijuro says:

    oh BTW all…

    I hate to introduce some facts into the ‘Daily Hail’ world…

    The reason the RSPCA inspectors attended the shop was a Cockatoo was seen with a broken leg in some distress in the window – the ‘expert’ pet-shop owner missed that one… that in its self was enough to get the tag…

    As to fines… We arrest people that dont pay fines too. When the court gets tired of them dicking about they issue a warrant and we arrest.

    Don’t believe what you hear in the papers – they are a bunch of liars IMHO.

    April 22nd, 2010 at 10:08

  7. 200 says:

    well if you insist in introducing facts, here’s some more, there were 11 charges in total, 4 of which related to the sale of a goldfish to an underage boy, 2 charges relating to the sale of a cockatiel which had a broken leg were withdrawn by Trafford Council, though agreed the Daily Fail did pull just one snippet from that story for headline effect.

    Why would you get tagged for offences related to a pet shop? is she gonna sneak out in the middle of the night & sell another goldfish? It would be interesting to hear what the tag was all about.

    But anyway, that mention was just an aside to the real story which is that of the easy target (once again) being punished more harshly than people who really do deserve a harsher sentence.

    April 22nd, 2010 at 12:03

  8. shijuro says:

    Ignoring the fact that it was the RSPCA that brought the prosecution (if it had been us- CPS would NEVER have sanctioned a trial!) I think it deserved some kind of punishment.

    Did you see her post court interview? I suspect that if she had used the same attitude in her interview- it’s not surprising that the RSPCA pushed it all of the way.

    However, I agree with your last line – but remember Home Detention Curfew is an alternative to a custodial sentence and probably quite a lenient way to deal? I mean if it was a day time curfew I could see your point.

    I agree that comparing the seriousness of this offence to others we have seen on a daily basis (the PPO that commits his 150th burglary dwelling and gets a further Drug Treatment and Testing order) – there is disparity.

    However, it is a mistake to compare them. One of the fundamental principles of our court system is that justice is tailored to the individual person and the individual crime.

    Still, I can’t help but think these type of stories don’t help the criminal justice systems image..

    April 22nd, 2010 at 17:53

  9. Ian says:

    In some enlightened countries I think sweden, they have variable fines. Some millionare was in the news for speeding and got an £80,000 fine!

    April 26th, 2010 at 13:07

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